Vegan Cookie Trio

So, we’re at three days till Christmas! Probably two by the time I actually share this quick post. Why am I so continuously surprised? We’ve been eagerly whittling away at the advent calendar all month long (F has a Lego one this year, and it is AWESOME…though, of course I would say that about anything our winsomely giddy-for-Christmas four-year old enjoys so gleefully). We’ve counted up, we’ve counted down, we’ve compared which was more–closed or open doors. And yet, why do I find myself repeatedly experiencing mini moments of panic, find myself daily exclaiming with the same genuine shock, “How is this possible?!”

Maybe it’s the busyness. Despite all the messaging this time of year to slow down and enjoy, we don’t live in a society that actually follows through in that regard. Maybe it had something to do with the unseasonably warm weather. Until recently, that is…because yesterday, it SNOWED! And it got COLD! Crisp, festive cold, not dank, under your skin and into your bones cold. Which makes this holiday weekend the perfect time to fit in one more bout of cookie baking. 

Once again, I can’t waffle on the way I’m apt to or would like to–because I’m still too busy and so are you. But here are three of my favorites (featuring the awe-inspiring curiosity which is aquafaba, of course) for this holiday season, hopefully in time to make it into yours, too. Or, if not, then next year. Or even next week, because while the gingerbread cutouts may be Christmas-stamped (at least for those of you who like to keep things in their place, e.g. no Christmas mugs past December), the other two are– or can be tweaked to be–most welcome any time of year. Happy baking, and happy holidays!


Another year, another attempt to make a healthier, vegan version these gluten-free cinnamon toffee blondie bars I made for Ancient Harvest…and this year’s experiment is so far my favorite! Only thing is, they’re not toffee blondies anymore. It’s kind of hard to veganize toffee chips. Which is fine, because I realized finally that I don’t actually even like toffee chips. Or toffee. So these cinnamon spicy blondie bars with dark chocolate chips suit me just fine and then some. Very heartily kid-approved!

Vegan gluten-free cinnamon chip bars
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
  2. 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  3. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  4. 1/2 cup aquafaba (drained chickpea liquid)
  5. 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  10. 1 cup Ancient Harvest quinoa flour
  11. 3/4 cup Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes
  12. 1/2 cup almond flour
  13. 1 cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a lsaucepan, mix coconut oil and sugars on medium low until combined. Add the aquafaba and vanilla and stir until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the quinoa flour, quinoa flakes, almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the sugar mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon batter (will be thick) into prepared pan and spread out until smooth and even. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until edges are slightly puffed and browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

These are those same chocolate cookies I posted the other week–which are an adaptation of these chocolate cookies featuring aquafaba. Chef Felix made the call to add crushed candy canes, and tada! Successful transformation into Christmas cookies!

Vegan gluten-free double chocolate peppermint cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  2. 1/2 cup maple syrup of honey
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/3 cup chickpea flour
  6. 6 tablespoons aquafaba
  7. 1/2 cup of natural almond or peanut butter
  8. 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  10. 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
  11. 1/2 to 1 candy cane, crushed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine aquafaba, honey, and nut butter in a mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
  3. Mix cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and chickpea flour together with a whisk.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients and dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until dough forms.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and crushed candy canes to the dough and continue stirring until evenly distributed.
  6. Roll dough into balls or drop by tablespoon an inch apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone. Press down slightly with a fork.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool and enjoy!
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

These vegan gingerbread cutout cookies are slightly modified Cookie And Kate awesomeness, testing out aquafaba. They are as fun as play dough to make and as pretty…and far more delicious. 

Vegan whole wheat gingerbread cutouts
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups sprouted whole wheat flour (I use One Degree Organics) or whole wheat pastry flour
  2. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  3. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  4. ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  5. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  6. ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  7. ½ cup melted coconut oil
  8. ½ cup blackstrap molasses
  9. ½ cup brown sugar
  10. 5 tablespoons aquafaba (drained chickpea liquid)
  11. 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
  12. 1 - 2 tablespoons orange juice, as needed
  13. Additional flour, for rolling
Instructions
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and baking powder with a whisk.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the coconut oil and molasses and stir to combine. Add the brown sugar and aquafaba and stir to blend.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and mix to form a ball of dough. Add orange juice by tablespoon as needed.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit with racks in the middle of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Lightly flour your working surface and roll out one of your discs out until it’s ¼ inch thick.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or to desired crispness (the aquafaba tends to extend cooking time). Place the baking sheets on cooling racks to cool.
Adapted from Cookie and Kate
Adapted from Cookie and Kate
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

Aquafaba “play date”: holiday roundup 1

I’m finally getting around to sharing specifics on recent, aquafabalicious aquafaba “play date”! I’ll try not to ramble too long. There will be plenty of more opportunities to rave about the science-meets-magic of the stuff, as indicated by the number 1 heading this post. 

What is aquafaba? Simply put, a vegan dream. Also a vegan-ish delight. A frugal cook’s simple pleasure. And let’s not forget a platform for potions for any curious chemist-in-the-kitchen.

For those who appreciate specifics, aquafaba is the viscous canned chickpea liquid you usually dump down the drain. It’s a translucent, thick liquid resulting from soaking or cooking chickpeas (and possibly other legumes or beans) for an extended period of time, and it resembles an egg white. Turns out, it can also be used in place of an egg white, or an egg. It can even be whipped up, transforming into beautiful, peaked meringue without a hint of chickpea flavor! It takes a little longer (maybe 10 minutes or so, quicker with a pinch of cream of tartar added), but we’re talking minutes. 

How does it work, actually? Of course I really don’t know. It’s been theorized that during the cooking process, the starches in legume seeds are gelatinized, setting up conditions allowing for soluble parts of the seed to go back out into the cooking water. What I do know is that, so far, it bakes beautifully in many a holiday treat. Here’s a sampling so far, to be continued soon. 🙂

Gluten-free vegan  double chocolate chip cookies. Just lightly crispy on the outside, chewy in the inside, these gooey treats could easily be made as brownie bars. Before our our aquafaba “play date”, Sarah and I separately made these amazing cookies. I altered the recipe a bit, stretching the batter further with the addition of a little chickpea flour, adding a bit extra cocoa powder, and replacing the sugar with a lower amount of honey. These are great for giveaways, on-hand freezer treats, just about any occasion. I don’t have a picture to show you right now because I lost them somehow–but I will have occasion to take more and update very soon. If I had to pick a favorite among these recipes, if would be these based on the intended frequency of baking.

Double chocolate chip cookies
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons organic cocoa powder (if available) 3/4 cup organic coconut sugar 1/2 tablespoon of organic baking soda 4 tablespoons aquafaba from organic chickpeas 1/2 cup of organic almond butter 2 teaspoons organic vanilla 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  2. 1/2 cup maple syrup of honey
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/3 cup chickpea flour
  6. 6 tablespoons aquafaba
  7. 1/2 cup of natural almond or peanut butter
  8. 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  10. 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine aquafaba, honey, and nut butter in a mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
  3. Mix cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and chickpea flour together with a whisk.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients and dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until dough forms.
  5. Add the chocolate chips to the dough and continue stirring until evenly distributed.
  6. Roll dough into balls or drop by tablespoon an inch apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone. Press down slightly with a fork.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool and enjoy!
Adapted from Global Healing Center
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/


Vegan, light molasses cookies. 
These bite-sized delights were an experiment and a pleasant surprise! Just crisp on the outside and just soft on the inside, they taste like lightly sweetened, ginger-flavored biscuits that also happen to double up as fantastic holiday pie crust in lieu of graham cracker crumbs.

Vegan light molasses cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ginger root
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  8. 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
  9. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  10. 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  11. 1/4 cup molasses
  12. 6 tablespoons aquafaba
  13. coconut sugar for rolling, optional
Instructions
  1. Combine dry ingredients, flour through spices and brown sugar, in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to bowl, stirring to combine.
  3. Shape dough into 24 balls, about 1 tablespoon each. Roll balls in remaining coconut sugar; if desired.
  4. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets covered with parchment paper or silicone. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or just until set.
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

Vegan pumpkin pie. We made this scrumptious pumpkin pie with fresh roasted pumpkin, and so added a bit of flour to the mix to help it firm up, but that shouldn’t be necessary with canned. And even if you were to get a custard middle, this would be worth it. Tastes so deceptively decadent. Gorgeous, especially topped with coconut whip.

Vegan pumpkin pie
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Ingredients
  1. 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree or 2 cups fresh cooked, pureed pumpkin
  2. 6 tablespoons aquafaba
  3. 1 cup evaporated coconut milk (full fat coconut milk works, too)
  4. 1/2 cup maple syrup
  5. 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  6. 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped
  7. 2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar
  8. 1 prepared pie crust, fresh or frozen and blind baked
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Pour filling into prepared crust.
  4. Bake for one hour or until mostly set. Chill at least two hours.
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

Pumpkin meringue tart. I’m not going to type up a recipe for this, because I’d have to guestimate completely. This was a winging-it creation Sarah put together, and it was suprt scrummy! You can figure it out: basically, crumble some of the molasses cookies, above, with a little added coconut oil to make pressed crust. Pour over a layer (thinner than a pie) of pumpkin filling (above), and bake until set. Whip up some aquafaba meringue and broil a few minutes until lightly browned. This is amazing. (Superb, Sarah!) One of us needs to make again and write down specifics. 

 

 

 

Quinoa carrot cake cookies (and Pikes Peak Ultra 30K)

I’d almost forgotten how much I love trail running. Not just on my own, but as a participant in an official group event, competitive or not. I’d just about forgotten too, how much I enjoy these gluten-free, vegan, oil-free (or not, if you prefer), lightly and naturally sweetened, easy on the digestive system cookies. That is the loose stretch of a connection between the recipe and narrative of this post. Sorry the record of the race experience is the dominating presence by far. It was my first official run event in two years after all.

carrot cake cookies (1 of 1)
First, about those “cookies”. They’re more like breakfast bars, but cookie shaped. I love them. They’re currently one of my favorite portable on-the-go breakfasts/snacks/lunches, and little F likes them too. They may taste a little more cookie-like and less like energy bites with the inclusion of coconut oil, but I prefer them without. You could totally give them a sweet treat lift with a bit of glaze if you wanted to. And the race connection? They’re good pre-run fuel. Generally, I prefer to go on empty. Even my former fave of banana and peanut butter was too much for the odd long run I tested it on in this last build up. But race day, I wanted to have a little bite beforehand, and carrot cake for breakfast works a treat. (Here’s where you skip the rambling race record to recipe below.*)

Living in Boulder County, perspective can become a little (a lot) warped. It’s not uncommon for people to ask questions along the lines of “How many ironman distance triathlons are you doing this year? How many ultras? ” within a minute of being introduced. When I tell people here that “these days I am only doing a 50K or two a year” the immediate response is often nods of understanding, if not a questioningly raised eyebrow confirming I’m a slacker. So it’s easy to feel hesitant when it comes to logging race memories for “just” 30K, especially when coupled with average ability. But it was such a beautiful, perfectly challenging course, and kind of a breakthrough mentally, in its way. Besides that, I had the best cowbell crew I could have ever wished for.

When I originally signed up for the Pikes Peak Ultra 30K, held in Colorado Springs from Bear Creek Regional Park, I intended to run the 50K. Typically, the longer I go the more competitive I can be, and to a point the less nervous too. But early on I realized too well how unprepared I would be for the 9000 feet of elevation gain in that event, let alone the altitude. Little F is a stellar household helper, but without family nearby Dave and I continually alternate to accomplish a number of things, workouts in particular. There just isn’t time to get into the hills or up high the way I’d like to, and training efforts need to be efficient even when sustained. For that reason, the week approaching this event I started to take on a few more jitters than I expected, become a little crankier, clouded by feelings of niggling aches and fatigue.

But it’s hard to drown in anxious anticipation the way I used to when a little person keeps you laughing and on your toes. Heading down to the Springs the afternoon preceding, we were caught in a pounding freak storm on the highway in a 50 minute delay caused by a crash. It would have been frustrating–it was, for Dave as generous driver both ways–only little F and all “the guys” (stuffed animals who comprise ‘the class’ when playing school) were so wowed and gleeful we couldn’t help but be a little bit delighted, too.

pike
Race morning, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Lightly misting, but temperate. Just right for running. Not too chilly for a singlet, but not hot, just pleasant. The previous day’s rain had the effect of making the trails feel firm and grippy, not muddy or loosely gravelly. Dave had prepared me for mentally taking the course in thirds. Side note–my amazing husband solves problems, assesses situations, and prepares ahead of time so very exceptionally. Sometimes I wonder idly by how much his skills are superior to mine, and whether I’m secretly far more crafty and opportunistic than I am willfully conscious of when it comes to taking shortcuts in letting him dig in so well on my behalf. (Thank you, thank you, darling Davy!)

Pikes 30K (4 of 4)
The first segment was a solid 5.5 mile climb of about 1600 feet right out of the gate. Competitors weren’t as chatty as my experience in 50Ks; I guess the distance being that much shorter really made a difference. Still, the trail running vibe has a different intensity to road, one that feels more laid back and friendly even as everyone strains and suffers. Nearing the close of the ascent, I started talking with an older guy who it turns out is clearly related to mountain goats. “Your walk-run strategy is working great for you,” I said to him, striking up conversation after miles of leap frogging. He was a modest, convivial man. Not talkative, but not reserved either. I don’t know what his background is, but just from the mile or so we ran together I was impressed by his genuine appreciation for being out there and for the way he without doubt plugs away with passion and keeps on showing up.

Pikes 30K (2 of 4)The middle third of the course, began with a descent on singletrack, sharp in spots, where my running companion dusted me for many miles and where I internally berated myself a bit for how my descent can let me down. At least when it comes to anything close to technical. But the trail was shadowy and beautiful, with mist hugging the peaks all around us. And I knew (from Dave’s preparation, not mine again), I just needed to focus on getting to mile 12 and the top of the next big hill before a major boost in momentum. While on a stretch of steep road connecting trails, Dave and Little F happened to pass by in the car on their way to a hike. “Go Mommy!” I could hear little F whooping even as they rolled down the hill behind me. “Mommy’s fast!” No caffeine infused gel could have possibly given a better, more lasting lift than knowing my little boy was proud of his mama in that moment.

The final section was mainly the beginning in reverse. As cautiously as I approached the middle descent, my legs were all about letting it rip and pounding down the 5.5 mile (mostly) descent to the finish. I knew my quads would pay the price–they were already sore–but it was fun to try to fly. Especially knowing my fast little sprinter was waiting to jump in on the finishing stretch.

About that “breakthrough”–there were two things. One, the biggest hurdle was definitely getting to the starting line but not in terms of training. That part I loved and looked forward to. It wasn’t the actual signing up, either (because Dave , ever supportive, did that for me, too–thank you, honey!!). The challenge was getting over the guilt and the fear that has been present in my mind since Dave’s injuries forced him to give up something that has been so special to share. Even as he has found the same kind of satisfaction in mountain biking, I still feel the shadow of what might be, if I do too much. At this point I’m guessing that won’t ever go away. Because, aging/practical reality/a number of things. But it’s so liberating to be able to relish getting out there again, owning the joy of just showing up.

Another notable aspect came from a semi awkward moment of irony strangely freeing, in the final ½ mile or less. A woman had passed me on the ascent early on, about ⅓ of the way in. We were cordial, greeting each other with breathless nods of “good job” and minimal eye contact. I didn’t expect to see her again, but in the final mile I found myself closing in on her. By the time we were 800 yds from the finish, I had to pass her, and in my head I felt conflicted. On the one hand, she’d managed to be ahead of me for all those tough miles. It seemed kind of unfair somehow, in a laid back event like this, to go by her. On the other, I did pull her back on my own efforts, so why not? When I pulled alongside her, I couldn’t help myself. “I don’t really want to pass you,” I said. “Want to finish strong together?” “Let’s,” she responded, surprised. “Thank you.”

Pikes 30K (1 of 4)The story could have ended there with some nice warm fuzz. Only what actually happened is that she took off at a strong clip I didn’t feel up for trying to match. I was happy with my performance, busy looking out for little F and his promised sprint to the finish together, and totally in touch with internal gratification and contentment. That was the breakthrough. I’ve always done my best in all areas when I can focus on finding out what the best is I can do on the day, without thought of others. This was no exception. Admittedly, I secretly knew I probably wasn’t in her age group, something she couldn’t have been sure of. Who knows but I would put more mojo in had I not had that knowledge. But  it was strangely liberating not to, and not at all like losing. The feeling was validated all the more when, to my surprise, I was handed the prize for first place Master’s female at the finish. That felt amazing. Big hugs from my two stalwart supporters, even better. Can’t help but admit, I can’t wait to pick the next one and go again. But I can choose smart, thinking long-term healthfulness, and wait, too.

Quinoa carrot cake breakfast cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup quinoa flour
  2. 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  3. 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
  4. 1/4 cup ground flaxseed/flax meal
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  8. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  9. 1/2 cup raisins
  10. 1 1/2 cups grated or shredded carrots (lightly packed)
  11. 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  12. 1 ripe banana, mashed
  13. 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce OR ½ cup applesauce and OMIT coconut oil, below
  14. 2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil *optional
  15. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  16. 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional but recommended)
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

Gluten-free dairy-free, naturally sweetened/low sugar PB & J Bars

It’s May Day tomorrow, which makes me about a month late. Meaning, I missed out on sharing these for National PB & J Day April 2nd. Then again, while I may not blasted any well wishes for the occasion on social media or otherwise, I’m pretty sure I celebrated, possibly too heartily.
PBJBars4

Preceding National PB & J Day, National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day took place March 1st this year. I’m awfully certain I subconsciously celebrated that one, too. Since I’ve known him, Dave has always marveled at Americans’ love for peanut butter. I can’t say I know where that stereotype came from, but I do know I’ve only reinforced it. Lately though, peanut butter love has been markedly full-blown. I’ve been craving it on celery, on apple slices, in oatmeal, and straight from the jar. In fact, those first three may really be mostly compromise to keep the urge to indulge in that last one at bay. 

PBJBars3
There are always food phases that come and go, mostly with the seasons, and holidays. Like right now, when we’re all easing out weekly soup nights and transitioning to staple salad dinners. And who doesn’t swoon a little bit at the heady scent of a pumpkin spice latte in October? But peanut butter…really I’ve been a little crazy (ok, nutty) for all nuts recently, and I think that’s an offshoot of experimental vegan purity for the past month or so. Except for honey, which is still a weekly feature including in this recipe, I’ve been much more strict, and it feels good. I don’t really have any way to measure any impact nor a baseline to compare. Our scale is broken, and I wasn’t feeling bad/excessively tired without explanation/grumpy before. I can’t say I’m gliding on new enriched energy, but I definitely don’t feel worse; I felt good before this trial and I still do. Mentally and emotionally, though, it does feel gratifying to do something delicious that happens to reduce my carbon footprint compassionately.

PBJBars5

As for these bars: they are everything they should be. Chewy and jammy centers, and crumbly and nutty all around. They’d be great actually crumbled, in fact–over oatmeal or (vegan) ice cream. This recipe has a whole lot of “ORs” in it. Like, 3 cups quinoa flakes OR 1 1/2 cups oats with 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes OR 3 cups oats. You can get away with 2 T honey OR 1/4 cup honey OR even no honey OR maple syrup.Originally I made these for Ancient Harvest, using quinoa flakes only instead of oats, and 2 eggs. I can say I think I do prefer the egg-less version, and using Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer over flax eggs. Since my little sis gave me a bag as a stocking stuffer, I really have become very fond of that pea protein concoction.  Overall, however, you really can’t go too very far astray when it comes to what is basically a just crunchy ball of peanut butter and jam.

Obviously, a recipe is always a guide and all those options are to be intuited or inferred, but in this case I’ve tried each little variation and approve so well I couldn’t cut back. Because, nuttiness lately…tell me what you change…or even would like to try out one day. I can promise there is a very good chance I will test the idea out for you. 😉

 

PB & J Bars
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  2. 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
  3. 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  4. 2 tablesoons Bob's Red Mill egg replacer mixed in 4 T water OR 2 flax eggs OR 2 eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 2 tablespoons OR ¼ cup honey
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. ¼ teaspoon salt (unless using salted peanut butter)
  9. ⅔ cup fruit only jam or jelly of choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, quinoa flakes, peanut butter, egg substitute, baking soda, vanilla, and salt and mix well.
  3. Press a little over half of the batter into an 8 X 8 baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to spread jam over mixture. (Soften jam as needed in a saucepan or microwave to help with spreading.) Crumble remaining mixture over jam layer as topping.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, until topping is browned and jam layer is bubbly. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

Gluten-free vegan cinnamon date “blondie” bars (date-sweetened)

Lately there’s been an especially annoying and annoyingly persistent refrain caught in my brain–that awful Cookie Jar chant. You know the one. Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar? [X] stole the cookies from the cookie jar… I don’t have a particularly good reason to particularly dislike that rhyming name game, but I do. The reason it’s stuck there is a little bit more endearing if somewhat problematic, in that little F has been taking to helping himself from the cookie tin housed in the freezer. Once, we thought that purchasing a new fridge with a large freezer drawer on the bottom would be useful in warding off snack sneaking, but no, it’s not. There are certainly conversations that need be had, rules and boundaries to be discussed. Yet there is a big, admiring, mushy part of me that wants to indulge our little big boy in every independent, empowered initiative to meet his own needs, including this one.

Bars (1 of 6)

My accommodating nature and his nibbling cause are mutually fed, literally I guess, by the fact that for the moment our attempts at healthy messaging around treats and sugars seem to be sinking in. “No more sugar for you today, Daddy,” F will say with surprising regularity whenever Daddy’s caught snagging an extra snack. “If you eat too much sugar, you gonna be sick and your body gonna be confused.” It seems counterintuitive to reward such observations by being all the more lax on self-guided cookie ventures, but gee.

Another factor chiseling away at resolve to be more firm is that the cookie tin, which is actually rather small, is typically filled with these healthy grain-free sugar cookies from Chocolate Covered Katie. Or a vegan variation of these, which I created for Madhava. And right now, it’s loosely packed with these, date-sweetened, just a bit chewy, gluten free and vegan ‘blondie’ bars I had sifting around in my mind for awhile and finally got to try.  

Bars (2 of 6)
For someone who makes a point of trying
not to eat cookies too often and goes to fairly significant lengths to make sure treats are on the healthy (for treats) side, I seem to have established a longstanding reputation for having a stash pile of cookies. Pre-parenting, our house was a routine stop-by for friends who routed long bike rides specifically to include a snack break from the freezer. When little F was born, the baking took a sharp downturn for a good while. But then my little sous chef got into mixing, measuring, stirring and baking with me…and there you go. The freezer was back in action as a (healthy-for-cookies) cookie trove.

Bars (4 of 6)

These were originally meant to be a makeover of these quinoa cinnamon toffee bars I made for Ancient Harvest and loved when tasted but didn’t eat. They’re not dairy-free, for one thing. I had a few adaptations in mind, but before long the tweaks piled up so much there was barely any resemblance to the first version and walah! Whole new cookie. (In case you’re wondering, yes I just thought it would be fun to say/write ‘walah’.) They’re rather guiltless, and yummy. Superb fresh from the oven, with that gooey meltaway chocolate quality; and they hold up amazingly well in the freezer. They may even be best–once the straight from the oven time has passed–straight from the freezer.

Chat wedding practice (3 of 5)There was a moment the other week while we were both still sick when I just collapsed in a mire of loneliness, negativity, and feeling sorry for myself. Everything was on hold. We were so cooped up. I hit such a low point that, looking over at my conked out child lying next to me on the bed, I felt the words pulse quietly against my brain, “This you-and-me alone deal is just not enough.” And as soon as the thought made its presence known, I recanted it. Truly, just then this diaphanous turning-point kind of ray of light glimmered into the room, kissing little F’s face; he opened his eyes and smiled, and out poured bright, loving energy that just flooded me.

Yeah, I was tired and prone to being overly emotional with every emotion all at once, but it was moving. You are absolutely, without question, more than enough, all by yourself, and always, my heart said to him. But it also managed to slip me a quiet revelation that one day, I need to be enough all by myself, too. I’m not sure I ever even felt quite that way before motherhood. It’s good to have goals.

Right now, I am so enjoying living in the fullness that is mostly this amazing little person, with nearly every choice I make, professionally, socially, and emotionally, pivoting around him. Right now, it’s enough to consciously work one day at a time at one day feeling enough as just me, myself. And trust that as time continues to flow that I will at least find solace in evolving reasons to keep a freezer stash of (healthy) cookies.

Gluten-free vegan cinnamon date “blondie” bars
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup pitted dates (Medjool are amazing, but any)
  2. ⅓ cup plus 1 Tablespoon orange juice or water
  3. 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax meal/ground flax in 5 tablespoons water)
  4. ½ cup almond butter (sunbutter will work, too)
  5. ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  6. 1 cup chickpea flour
  7. ¾ cup quick oats
  8. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  9. 2 flax eggs or eggs
  10. ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  12. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  13. ½ tp ¾ cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Combine dates and water or orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil; cook 10 minutes, stirring, or until most liquid is absorbed. If desired, pulse in a food processor until reaching a fairly smooth, jam-like consistency.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray or parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Transfer date mixture to a large mixing bowl and whisk in flax eggs. Add almond butter and mix until well mixture is smooth.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl, stirring to combine. Spoon batter (will be thick) into prepared pan and spread out until smooth and even. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are slightly puffed and browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
Happy Apple Natural Kitchen http://www.happyapplekitchen.com/

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